Supreme Court Judgment- Laxmi vs. Union of India & Ors. (2014 SCC 4 427) Acid Attack Case
In this case, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court of India by Laxmi, an acid attack survivor praying for control over the sale of acid, for compensation to survivors, and for survivors, guarantee access to medical care. The PIL has resulted in several important orders regarding regulation of acid and for setting minimum compensation for survivors.
- In this matter a girl who was going to her office from her home was called by someone. When she looked back she saw people on a bike known to her. One of them was a person from whom she got proposal for marriage but she denied. Before she could understand anything acid was thrown on her.
- That she faced lot of mental trauma and physical pain due to all this. After many surgeries even she could not gain her looks back. Her upper body got too much affected by the acid attack.
- That the criminal case of attempt to murder was filed against the accused people and they got convicted by the court of Delhi.
- That the person who was convicted by district court of Delhi later got bail from High Court. This led the victim in shock. The reason came out that the courts giving bail in such cases have no idea about the severity of the case in such situations.
- That the victim filed Public Interest Litigation in Supreme Court of India with the help of her family, friend and her lawyer with prayers related to various issues like the easy availability of acid, no provision in law dealing with acid attacks cases, expensive surgeries and medical expenses, rehabilitation help for acid attack survivors.
- It is a tough battle which a survivor has to face hence proper support and assistance is required from the government.
Issues raised [ii]
In this Public interest Litigation following were the prayers made by petitioner:
- Prayer was made by petitioner to issue a direction to the respondents for making appropriate amendment in the Penal Code, 1860 and Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 specially to deal with acid attacks.
- A complete ban should be there on sale of acid and in all forms acid should be notified as a scheduled banned chemical and should not available across the counter.
- Prayer was made to issue direction for framing of guidelines in regard to prosecutions of acid throwers and for the rehabilitation of acid attack victims which should be by providing proper treatment and aftercare.
Judgment and Decision
The outcome of this Public Interest Litigation was that many orders were passed in which guidelines were issued by the Supreme Court of India for the betterment of acid attack survivors.
- Meetings were held having presence of Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and the Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India with all the Chief Secretaries/their counterparts in the States/Union Territories, in which data was collected from all over the India of acid attack cases. Affidavit was filed in court in this regard and showed that there were 282 acid attacks in all the States.
- It came into the notice of the court that the majority of acid attacks were in the States of Uttar Pradesh (185), Madhya Pradesh (53) and Gujarat (11). Delhi is the only Union Territory where acid attacks have taken place so far as the Union Territories are concerned.
- The amendment was made in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 through which Section 357-A was inserted by act 5 of 2009 requiring every State Government, in coordination with the Central Government, for the purpose of compensation to the victims or their dependents, to prepare a scheme for providing funds who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and require rehabilitation.
- Amendment was made in Indian Penal Code and two sections were added i.e. Sections 326-A and 326-B in the code specifically dealing with acid attack.
- Victim Compensation Scheme got notified in all States and Union Territories of India. Amendment was made in Indian penal code.
- Amendment was made in Criminal procedure of India wherein Section 357C of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which was inserted by an Amendment Act in year 2013 came into effect from 03.02.2013.
- Direction were issued by supreme court regarding the minimum compensation of Rs.3,00,000/- (Rupees three lakhs only) per acid attack victim to be given by all States and Union Territories of India.
- It was ordered that full medical assistance should be provided to the victims of acid attack and that free medical treatment to such victims should also be provided by private hospitals.
- The State Governments regarding the prayer of ban on sale of acid, carried out the necessary amendments in their States in the Poisons Act and have declared “acid” a poison and now that would not be easily available.
- Supreme Court of India also directed to the State/Union Territory State Legal Services Authority to give wide and adequate publicity of Victim Compensation Scheme in the concerned State/Union Territory so that each acid attack victim can take the benefit of the Scheme.
- It was directed that all the States/UTs will issue the requisite orders/notifications with regard to treatment and payment of compensation to acid attack victims and survivors.
- Regarding the treatment perspective it was directed that First aid must be administered to the victim and later the victim/patient could be shifted to a specialized facility for further treatment, after stabilization.
- No hospital/clinic can refuse treatment by making excuse of lack of specialized facilities and if any specific complaint comes against any private hospital orgovernment hospital, the acid attack victim can take further legal action.